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Squeasy Pouch form-fill-seal combines exotic and conventional operations

Squeasy Pouch form-fill-seal combines exotic and conventional operations
Squeasy Pouches are filled on a customized horizontal f/f/s system.

Contract packager MaxPax reveals additional details about the one-of-a-kind, pouch-within-a-pouch Squeasy Pouch produced on “exotically” modified horizontal form-fill-seal equipment.

Commercialized by brand owner EcoSierra and attached to a 24oz PET bottle of ready-to-use cleaner, the Squeasy Pouch—a 3oz pouch-within-a-pouch concentrate—is the patent-pending brainchild of contract packager MaxPax LLC. EcoSierra marketing manager Jon Klahr is quick to credit for MaxPax’s role in product and package development that has resulted in the market traction the company is seeing and the buzz its new line of cleaning products is creating, thanks to the Squeasy Pouch.

“It’s all about working with our contract packager,” says Klahr. “MaxPax has been formulating and packaging cleaners for years, but they have also opened our eyes to make us look outside the box if you will. They have been unbelievably helpful in sitting down with us, working with some of their resources and creatively coming up with new ways to do things. I can’t say enough about them.”

 “MaxPax has been formulating and packaging cleaners for years, but they have also opened our eyes to make us look outside the box, if you will,” says Klahr. “They have been unbelievably helpful in sitting down with us, working with some of their resources and creatively coming up with new ways to do things. I can’t say enough about them.”  For more on the brand owner’s Squeasy Pouch experience, see Inventive pouch is a springboard for source reduction, reuse and growth published earlier this week.

One of his key contacts is August Meinerz, business development manager for MaxPax LLC, which owns the Squeasy Pouch patent and handles the company’s chemical and industrial contract packaging operations, and for sister company U.S Packaging LLC, which handles contract packaging  of food and beverage products.

Meinerz explains that, in development since 2012, the Squeasy Pouch invention was born of the packager’s desire to change the way concentrates, as well as other liquids, are manufactured, distributed and consumed. “We’ve worked with customers that have tried to package concentrates in flexible pouches,” he says. “The pouch reduces by about 95% the amount of packaging required when a bottle is reused. Getting a liquid into a pouch is easy. The difficulty comes when users try to get that liquid out and into a narrow-neck bottle. They try to pour it and it spills everywhere.

“The Squeasy Pouch solves the problems for solutions that are either a bottle—which makes measuring and transferring a hassle—or a standard pouch that can spill and almost guarantees a mess when pouring."

MaxPax solves all that with the Squeasy Pouch by sealing an inner “frangible” (or breakable) film that’s a proprietary blend of several types of poly and an additive to an outer PET film along with a linear-low-density polyethylene sealant. The inner film holds the liquid back until the pouch is cut, inserted into a bottle and squeezed, breaking the inner membrane and forcing the liquid out.

“It helps control the liquid to ensure that all of it ends up inside the container,” adds Meinerz. “You never have any mess.”

Meinerz says the minimum pouch width is 2.5 inches and the maximum is around 8 inches. To customize the Squeasy Pouch for EcoSierra, MaxPax changed it from a square to a triangle-shaped bottom so that it can fit into a narrow-neck bottle. Packaging Digest covered the invention in an article March 2014 (pdlinks.com/MaxPax). The initial patent filing made so many claims that the U.S. Patent Office rejected it, notifying them that it would have to split it into two patents, Meinzer says. He feels that the pair of patents is close to being finalized by the USPO.

The company developed the pouch to be run on its own, highly modified horizontal form/fill/seal system that’s the first in the world to produce the specialized pouches. The forming half of the machine was obscured by a sheet of film for our on-site visit, though the filling and sealing portion that was viewable seemed a pretty conventional operation.

We couldn’t help but ask: What’s behind the (literal) plastic curtain? 

“We had to alter the whole front of the machine to make this work,” responds Meinerz. “It’s very exotic.”

That’s all he would say.

The pouches emerge from the forming section held in clamps for one-up filling, followed by indexing to a heat-sealing station for the top seal. From there they are indexed to a punching station that makes a 1-inch diameter hole to convert the filled pouch into a neck hanger format for EcoSierra before they are released to a short takeaway conveyor.

The system operates at rates of 20 pouches per minute, with speeds restricted by the punching station, according to Meinerz.

In parallel with this latest development and while remaining in R&D mode for EcoSierra’s plans for more Squeasy Pouch variations, MaxPax continues to find more applications in other markets as well, such as food, beverage, personal care and home/garden products.

“We’ve just pitched this concept to a drink company,” Meinerz says, an application that would be handled by the U.S. Packaging division.

He also discloses that they are developing a two-chambered pouch that can accept a different fill in each chamber: “It would be applicable in many markets.”

MaxPax LLC, 262-275-3484

Top 10 pharmaceutical packaging stories of 2014: Gallery

10. New packaging design for AminoActiv pain reliever from Vireo Systems hopes to educate consumers who are looking for an alternative to Ibuprofen and NSAIDs (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs) on their options. Central to the new labeling and packaging is the communication of more buyer information that helps consumers and retailers understand the benefits of avoiding NSAIDs.

From patient-adherence packages to emerging business conditions, the pharmaceutical packaging industry continues to focus on innovation, safety and optimization—as evidenced by these top stories of the year:

10. Package redesign helps to better educate consumers on pain relievers.

9. Rotary tables provide accumulation for pharma operation.

8. Tray provides a high level of moisture protection for pharmaceutical products during their global distribution.

7. Child-resistant unit-dose pack is also senior friendly.

6. Package helps patients remember to take their meds.

5. Combo carton eliminates the need for a leaflet insertion operation on the packaging line.

4. The largest pharmaceutical contract manufacturer and packager of powder products in the world hires new leader.

3. Global pharma giant trials 100% container seal inspection on packaging lines.

2. How will recent pharma M&As impact packaging departments?

1. This cool package improves functionality for a new optical product.

Packaging professionals still struggle with setting ‘sustainable’ strategies

Packaging professionals still struggle with setting ‘sustainable’ strategies

When it comes to sustainable packaging, the big picture is sometimes the hardest to paint.

Packaging Digest introduced the circular economy concept in an October 2014 article. Defined by the Ellen MacArthur Foundation, a circular economy is “an industrial economy that is restorative by intention; aims to rely on renewable energy; minimizes, tracks and hopefully eliminates the use of toxic chemicals; and eradicates waste through careful design.”

We were interested to see how this newer model was resonating with the packaging community, especially compared to the more established eco-efficiency philosophy, which is described as practices that have a quantifiably lower environmental footprint today, but not necessarily in the long term. So we asked about each strategy in the Packaging Digest 2014 Sustainable Packaging Study (see chart 1).

Survey respondents who are members of the Sustainable Packaging Coalition (SPC) were more likely to have heard about the circular efficiency model than non-members, 38% versus 21% respectively (see chart 2). But, still, a large percentage of total participants were unfamiliar with the concept (77%).

This could be why a majority (56%) of survey takers don’t know if their company’s sustainable packaging strategy is more aligned with the eco-efficiency approach or the circular economy approach (see chart 3). Of the ones who did know, three times as many chose eco-efficiency than did circular economy (33% versus 11%). It’ll be interesting to see how these percentages may change over time as more discussions take place on this topic, including at the thought-leading SustPack 2015 conference scheduled for March 31-April 2 in Orlando. The event is organized by Smithers Pira in partnership with Packaging Digest and the SPC.

When we asked participants what their overall sustainable strategy was, more than 500 people told us. Many say they either don’t have one or, if they do, they don’t know what it is. Again, this probably contributed to the numbers of people who chose “Don’t know” in the question above.

Of the ones who do have a strategy, eliminating product waste came up often, especially for food; and extending shelf life with barrier packaging was cited as one way of doing that.

A lot of respondents say costs weigh heavily in their decisions—a familiar concern in our earlier sustainable packaging studies, too.

A popular strategy was to reduce first and then make sure what is left is recyclable or uses recycled-content.

Some policies are broad; some focused. Here’s a taste—perhaps you might see an idea here worth pursuing yourself:

“We intend to make every package more sustainable by one attribute. It is a lofty goal, but one we believe we can achieve. It also allows us to make small changes that affect large groups of packages at once.”

“Goal is to achieve sustainability in steps. It is more economical and easier to see going the eco-efficiency route.”

“System level product/process optimization.”

“Our sustainable packaging strategy is a sustainable business strategy.”

“Recovery is key + prevention of used packaging going to landfill. This is not about closing the loop. It is about resource optimization. Very easy to justify. There is no point going for a closed-loop solution if it uses more resources than it creates.”

 “The goal is to develop the most sustainable, efficient packaging from the start, and to look at old designs to see where improvements can be made. Honestly, the sustainability initiative tends to fall in parallel with cost savings projects.”

“Print what is needed, dramatic waste reduction and dramatic inventory and destruction cost/impact reduction.”

“Reduce, reuse, recycle and rightsiz[e].”

“Our decisions are based on my sustainability criteria: If a material or process supports life, it is sustainable. If it harms life, it isn't sustainable.”

“Set key goals that can be measured; reduce packaging size, use sustainable materials, track EOL [end of life]. It’s what we can measure and have an impact. It's difficult because materials are generally more expensive.”

“It's an open strategy. We are always looking and open to materials that are sustainable as long as they are functional, reliable and cost effective.”

“It's been challenging to justify some decisions because there's not always a good balance between people, planet and profit payoffs.”

Some replies were specific to the topics of circular economy and eco-efficiency:

“We consult for companies in the value chain, so educate them on both options. Usually they are more aligned with eco-efficiency since costs can be more easily tracked—an easy metric everyone understands.”

“We understand your reasoning, but think creating an artificial dichotomy between circular economy and eco-efficiency is extremely counterproductive for the packaging sector. These two concepts are not mutually exclusive.”

Definitely a lot to consider.

Packaging professionals still struggle with setting ‘sustainable’ strategies: Gallery

More respondents to the Packaging Digest 2014 Sustainable Packaging Study are familiar with the eco efficiency model than with the newer circular economy model.

When it comes to sustainable packaging, the big picture is sometimes the hardest to paint.

Packaging Digest introduced the circular economy concept in an October 2014 article. Defined by the Ellen MacArthur Foundation, a circular economy is “an industrial economy that is restorative by intention; aims to rely on renewable energy; minimizes, tracks and hopefully eliminates the use of toxic chemicals; and eradicates waste through careful design.”

We were interested to see how this newer model was resonating with the packaging community, especially compared to the more established eco-efficiency philosophy, which is described as practices that have a quantifiably lower environmental footprint today, but not necessarily in the long term. So we asked about each strategy in the Packaging Digest 2014 Sustainable Packaging Study.

Packaging machinery connectivity can help open your door to young engineers

Packaging machinery connectivity can help open your door to young engineers
When packaging machinery manufacturers can monitor and troubleshoot their systems installed at a customer's plant, uptime increases.

Packaging engineers will be in even higher demand in the near future as older, experienced engineers retire and the pool of new recruits is more the size of a reflecting pond than a Great Lake.

It’s long been known that the latest computer gadgets help recruit the next generation of employees in offices. Did you know that engineers are also enticed by companies open to the latest technologies on their packaging lines?

Packaging Digest has been talking about the Industrial Internet (aka the Internet of Things) and its tangible benefits for the packaging industry. Helping you hire the best engineering talent is another bonus.

“If we have difficulty in finding young people to be interested in our business, there is certainly more than just salaries” to interest them, says Dominique Blanc, general manager at eWON Inc., a company that provides products for remote communication in industrial environments, including packaging operations. With its Talk2M, COSY (short for communication made easy) and Flexy products, eWON (short for Eyes Watching Over Network) offers ways of connecting to packaging machines through an industrial router via the plant’s network. This bypasses the need to tap into a company’s corporate network and involve the information technology (IT) department—a common pain point of many packaging engineers.

So Blanc asks the critical question: “Why do we have so few engineers in this business?” He explains, “They are always on the road. It’s not appealing for young kids.”

He contends, “It’s a pretty demanding job. The trend is clear: People want to spend more time with their family and their hobby. They want to help their employer, don’t get me wrong. But if there is a means to make [their job] more efficient…instead of losing 10 hours of traveling for 10 minutes of troubleshooting…” Blanc says. “Technology can help us here. You don’t have to be on the road every weekend. You can fix something remotely and still have a family life.”

Today, more original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) are adding remote monitoring to their machines as a way to help minimize downtime and quickly get their customers’ packaging lines operating again. It cuts service costs, yes. But uptime is usually the key driver. “We have a tendency to see that the end users get less competent on these technologies. They rely more and more on the OEMs,” Blanc says. “Now the OEM has a capability to provide a very good service and help customers keep running those machines.”

However, as we get into situations where qualified packaging engineers will be hard to find, there might be an opportunity for the end user to maximize the experience and expertise of their in-house engineers by giving them remote access. Package engineering supervisors and managers can save time and travel, and quickly help operators troubleshoot lines that are down, by tapping into the same technology.

“If a factory becomes more efficient because there is less downtime, then this trend of having more manufacturing here in the States might be more sustainable. We can produce more efficiently and more cost effectively if the product is running all the time instead of like today, at 50% or 60% at the best,” Blanc says.

“We need to find a way—any way—to help customers grow their business. I suspect technology will provide a means to be more efficient with existing resources,” Blanc adds. “Kids today love technology. They love to be connected with their phone. Having suddenly a different relationship with those machines might be appealing…if we know how to present it to them.

“There’s a full industry that’s going to happen around the Internet of Things. We have the ambition to provide the means for connecting at eWON. But there are beautiful opportunities to develop for kids in providing service and being able to enjoy life.”

Mechatronics training strengthens career in packaging machinery

Mechatronics training strengthens career in packaging machinery
Logan Lange, a student in the Automated Packaging Systems Technician Program at Wisconsin Indianhead Technical College, New Richmond, WI.

How are future packaging machinery field-service techs made? Logan Lange, a student in the Automated Packaging Systems Technician Program at Wisconsin Indianhead Technical College (WITC), New Richmond, WI, tells his story.

Tell us what sparked your interest in machinery.

Lange: I originally became interested in machines growing up on a farm. I knew I wanted to work in a field related to mechanical movement and, after touring the Automated Packaging Systems Technician Program at WITC, I knew it would be a good fit for my background.

Why did you choose WITC?

Lange: I chose WITC because of the small campus and all-around small town, one-on-one feel with all of the instructors. The classes are specific to the packaging field and prepare you well with a work-oriented future.

What do you hope to get from the program by the time you graduate?

Lange: I hope to be prepared with an in-depth mechatronics background to start my career right after I graduate. And with the way the program is planned, I fully expect to be employed.

What’s been the most surprising thing in your time there?

Lange: I think that has been the way that the information you learn, for example an electro-mechanical class, applies to everyday life. The fact you wouldn’t think you would use the information you learn in classes like that will apply in more ways than one to your career is surprising.

What’s your most challenging project or activity and what did you learn from it?

Lange: The most challenging class was my AC/DC class. I knew very little about the way electricity works. The class started from the ground-up, covering both AC and DC Power and Control Circuits and, by the end of the class, I had a great foundation to build upon with a further in-depth electro-mechanical class.

We also worked on large packaging machines in our lab that looked very intimidating when I first saw them.  Later, my courses in print reading fluid power systems, power transmission components and processes and materials helped me with my knowledge and skills to become an effective troubleshooter on complex packaging systems.

What’s been the most beneficial course and why?

Lange: I think that, by the time I graduate, my programmable logic controller (PLC) class will be the most beneficial. It all depends on what kind of job I land, but having a good PLC background is quite important in the automated packaging industry.

Where do you envision yourself in five years?

Lange: I would like to get involved with a company and maybe do some assembly to get familiar with the product and company. Then I’d like to move into a field-service tech job.

What’s one piece of advice you’d share with others considering WITC or other technical college?

Lange: If you are unsure about choosing a two-year college, just make sure that it is going to prepare you fully for the job that you want when you graduate. I attended UW Stout for one year for a Packaging Engineering Degree and I figured that out by the time I graduate because the job that I was studying to get was really not the one I wanted. I think that a two-year, hands-on program such as WITC is a great option for someone who loves working with their hands and knows they want a mechanical job when they graduate.

For more information on Wisconsin Indianhead Technical College, contact Kevin Lipsky, WITC’s Automated Packaging Systems Technician instructor at the New Richmond, WI, campus.

Industry news: See what's going on in packaging

Industry news: See what's going on in packaging

This edition of Newsmakers features the latest in happenings for the months of November and December.

MOVERS & SHAKERS
Barry-Wehmiller names Carol O’Neill as vp of strategy, technology and key initiatives.

Esko appoints Udo Panenka, svp, global sales and marketing, as president.

Standard-Knapp hires David Blankenship as field service engineer.

Crown Holdings Inc. announces Djalma Novaes Jr. as the new president of its Americas division.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration names Dr. Susan Mayne director of the Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition.

Ball Corp. promotes Daniel Rabbitt to the expanded, global role of vp and general manager, Ball Aerocan, a division of Ball’s metal food and household products packaging segment.

GROWING & GOING
Berlin Packaging expands its Chicago-area warehousing and inventory management capacity with its move to a new 125,000-sq-ft warehouse in Bolingbrook, IL.

Ilapak expands its manufacturing in the U.S. with the development of a new, state-of-the-art production facility in North West Arkansas. The plant will serve its North American customer base.

A new can manufacturing facility will shortly open in Roanoke with the creation of 100 new jobs. It follows a supply agreement between leading international packaging company Ardagh Group and ConAgra Foods.

SATO announces plans to accelerate its global growth strategy through the establishment of two new group companies—SATO Global Solutions and SATO Intl.

Royal DSM announces that its new polymerization plant will be built in Augusta, GA.

Honeywell Process Solutions opens the new Customer Experience Center at the company’s global headquarters in Houston.

BUYING & ALLYING
Onex acquires SIG Combibloc Group for up to $4.66 billion. SIG is the second largest provider of aseptic carton packaging globally.

Bosch Packaging Technology and Klenzaids plan joint venture in India.

Bemis Co. Inc. announces that it has completed the sale of its global Pressure Sensitive Materials business (known as “MACtac”) to Platinum Equity.

Sonoco completes acquisition of Weidenhammer Packaging Group for approximately $360 million in cash.

Simplimatic Automation LLC, a leading material handling and automation integrator, announces it is now a member of FANUC Robotics America Corporations’ distribution network.

H2W Technologies Inc. aquires Baldor linear motor product lines.

ACHIEVEMENTS
Primera Technology Inc. receives its seventh consecutive “Best Customer Service” award from LiveHelpNow, a well-known online communications provider.

Bosch’s two-in-one biscuit packaging line wins German Packaging Award, first presented at Interpack 2014.

Rinco Ultrasonics is awarded two U.S. patents for its PPS0145 film sealing technology for ultrasonic film sealing of flexible pouch packaging.

To enhance supply chain efficiency and sustainability for Jack Link’s Beef Jerky, Presto Products Co. enrolled the company in Presto’s Fresh-Lock Zipper Spool Recycle and Reuse program.

Inland Label has been recognized as a Best Workplace in the Americas by the Print Industries of America.

The Top 10 packaging design articles for 2014

The Top 10 packaging design articles for 2014

Here are the most well-read articles on packaging design posted since January 1 which includes topics from marijuana packaging, personalization to outrageous designs.

Use the red View Gallery button above to launch the slideshow.

10. Marijuana packaging: implied endorsement?

9. Dog food gets personal with custom packaging

8. Fans lament loss of hungry jack microwavable syrup bottle

7. Morton Salt pours out new packaging design

6. Getting a feel for multi-sensory packaging

5. 5 outrageous packages that demand ‘look at me!’

4. It’s open season for Busch beer drinkers

3. 5 emerging packaging design trends for 2014

2. 8 surprising packaging innovations from Pack Expo

1. The top article for 2014 was by far the winner in the packaging design category. Read here to see why.

The Top 10 packaging design articles for 2014: Gallery

10. After publishing the widely-read article “Marijuana Packaging: Beyond the baggie”, we received a letter to the editor posing this thought-provoking counterpoint: Was this an endorsement for legalization?

Here are the most well-read articles on packaging design posted since January 1 which includes topics from marijuana packaging, personalization to outrageous designs.

Use the red View Gallery button above to launch the slideshow.

10. Marijuana packaging: implied endorsement?

9. Dog food gets personal with custom packaging

8. Fans lament loss of hungry jack microwavable syrup bottle

7. Morton Salt pours out new packaging design

6. Getting a feel for multi-sensory packaging

5. 5 outrageous packages that demand ‘look at me!’

4. It’s open season for Busch beer drinkers

3. 5 emerging packaging design trends for 2014

2. 8 surprising packaging innovations from Pack Expo

1. The top article for 2014 was by far the winner in the packaging design category. Read here to see why.

Top 5 packaging articles of November

Top 5 packaging articles of November
This new pump-on-pouch system is from one of our Top 5, but which one?

Before we completely turn the calendar on November, let’s take a quick look at what packaging news and package developments your peers have found most interesting the past 4 weeks at PackagingDigest.com. This month we have a buffet of items that range from 8 Pack Expo packaging innovations to a discontinued syrup bottle that struck a nerve to a dog food’s personalized packaging to a tamper-evident, resealable slider and more. We present in reverse order last month’s top winners, enjoy!

5.  This resealable slider for pouches is both easy opening and child-resistant, but how did they do it?  

4.  You can have your pie and drink it, too, with these flavored whiskies that stand out with a bold packaging design.

3. Consumers and their dogs should take this packaging personally.

2.  Here’s a tip: Don’t take a package away from your customers that they love.

1. You may find these 8 packaging innovations from Pack Expo as surprising as we and many others did.